Four weeks ago we started Wishful Thinking Ways to make 2012 exciting and rewarding in new and different ways. In January we are setting the stage; in February we will be discovering your dreams and in March, we will focus on how to make them happen. Join in the fun! To catch-up click: Wishful Thinking Ways week one, week two, and week three. Don’t miss a single step in the process!
Last week we discovered our physiological tells: what happens to our bodies when we are stressed, angry, frustrated etc. Our goal was to focus on our internal reactions in the moment: “When I’m angry, I feel a tightness in my chest.”
The Name Game
Now I would like you to add a step to your discovery process. Next time you are angry, tense or rushing around and you feel your body reacting, identify what you are feeling. Are you angry? Tense? Frustrated? Jealous? Scared?, etc. Figure it out, and then say to yourself: ” I’m angry.” “I’m mad.” “I’m tense.” “I’m afraid.” Make it short and simple. The goal is to identify not analyze.
Well, when you identify what’s going on, it gives your body and mind a break, and may even move you from one state to another. Saying to yourself, “Oh, I’m angry,” is like giving your brain a mental time-out, which will – at least momentarily – interrupt the negative commentary that may be going on in your head: “OMG, I can’t believe she is late again. She always does this.” “#%$#@ He cut in front of me, what a jerk, he almost hit me! I should . . .”
Identifying your state of mind takes a bit of practice, but is well-worth the effort. Most of us sleep walk our way through our emotions or stuff them in the corners of our minds, both of which can lead to health problems and reduce our overall quality of life. But not you, at least not anymore! Now, that you know what your physiological tells are, you can use them to help you identify what you are feeling: “My chest is tightening, maybe I’m angry.”
All this internal talking to yourself might seem odd at first, but you are actually doing it all day long anyway, so why not use it to your best advantage? Most of what we say to ourselves is negative – whether we are “talking” about ourselves or others – and, it can add to our stress, and seldom if ever leads to solutions. By identifying what you are feeling, you can reduce the chatter in your head and give your mind and your body a well-needed rest.
And, please remember, that is all we are doing – labeling – not judging! You are angry, so what? Jealous, okay, so you are jealous, for now that is all you need to know. (I’m not saying these are good states of mind or something we should strive for, but since you are already feeling them, more good will come from labeling them than denying their existence.)
And, the rich and wonderful flip side of all is this is you can reap additional rewards by identifying and labeling your state of mind when you are happy, having fun, or feeling fulfilled. Noting these positive states is the first step of savoring, and can remind us how good feeling good feels!
Before you go today, write and read out loud the following sentence: “This week I will use my physiological tells to help me identify and label what I am feeling.” (No matter how silly it seems, please write and read it out loud. Feel free to reword it to make it sound more like something you would say – just keep the same intent.)
Have an interesting and insightful weekend!